Date nights for movie lovers

Reeling in film fans

If, like me, you have Netflix or any premium cable service, it won't surprise you to find out that summer movie ticket sales have been on a slow decline since 2002 (according to Hollywood.com). As the size of our televisions grow along with the options on them, even hard-core film fans might be less likely to take in that second screening of "Star Trek Into Darkness" when they can rent it a month later.

Ironically, many theaters are fighting the trend by making a movie night more of an indulgence, not less. Seeing beer and wine at the concession stand is becoming the norm at mainstream movie houses such as downtown Orlando's Plaza Cinema Cafe and various Regal Cinema locations. And for real cinephiles, there is a beloved trio of cinemas that offers the trifecta: Dinner, drinks and a movie all in one.

Whether you're one of those film buffs or you've ever gone on a date in Maitland, you already know the first one. Enzian Theater has been serving up quality independent film since 1985, along with some quality menu fare that goes far beyond popcorn and nachos, with selections such as Pesto Crab Pizza ($14) and Left Hand Milk Stout on draft ($6). This is the de facto home for art-house fans, who can enjoy gala events such as the annual Florida Film Festival or monthly tastes of local filmmaking talent. In recent years, the Enzian has made some welcome nods to more casual classics at the weekly Wednesday Night Pitcher Show, which screens pop-culture prizes such as "Blazing Saddles" and "Say Anything" on the theater's lawn. Even if you're not stopping by for one of those gems, the outdoor Eden Bar is a destination all its own, with a refreshing spread of specialty drinks and craft beers, plus one of the best patio views in town.

In Winter Park I recently stopped at Aloma Cinema Grill, a more affordable date-night option with its own special charm. Many Winter Park residents still know this place as the Aloma Cinema Drafthouse, and though the name has changed, the drafts are still here. Aloma Cinema Grill has been screening films and serving up eats for 37 years — nearly a full decade longer than Enzian. Even so, the picture and sound are surprisingly up to date here. Even more surprising is the price: Adult tickets run $7.50 for evening shows, significantly less than most regular theaters. If your tastes run more to the mainstream, this is your place, with first-run movies on three screens and quick table service. The food may not be gourmet, but it's still a step up from the concession stand, with variations on wings and burgers and a modest selection of drafts ($3) and wines ($6 per glass). And there's even a personal touch on some nights: The menu special during my screening of "Iron Man 3" was a "Tony Stark Burger" ($11) featuring cheddar, bacon and sauteed onions. (Not the toppings I associate with a rich superhero, but it's the thought that counts.)

The coast has its own jewel for film fans in the Cinematique Theater of Daytona Beach. This single-screen art-house venue may not have the atmosphere of Enzian, but it makes up for it with an anything-goes approach. On any given night, you might see premieres from local filmmakers, screenings from Royal Opera House productions, or even live improv comedy and poetry readings. Film prices vary, and menu items range from flatbread sandwiches ($5.95) to steamed edamame ($3.95) —ordering in advance is recommended.

tcaviness@tribune.com or 407-420-5677

Enzian Theater

Where: 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland

Online: enzian.org

Aloma Cinema Grill

Where: 2155 Aloma Ave., Winter Park

Online: alomacinemagrille.com

Cinematique Theater of Daytona Beach

Where: 242 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach

Online: cinematique.org

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2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
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